Volvo S90 review
The Volvo S90 is a handsome and well-equipped rival to German exec models, but is not quite as good to drive
The Volvo S90 is the company's best crack yet at taking on the dominant German brands in the premium executive saloon sector. The Swedish sophistication in the cabin makes it an appealing environment in which to undertake long journeys, although it's not as plush all round as a Mercedes E-Class.
The real strengths of the S90 are its cruising refinement and, as is often the case with Volvo, the amount of safety kit on board. It also gets a decent haul of regular equipment, making the big exec one of the better-kitted offerings in an area of the market that traditionally has long options lists.
The driving dynamics aren’t on a par with the class benchmark, though; the S90 isn’t quite as agile as the likes of the 5 Series, and it doesn’t soak up bumps as effectively as an E-Class.
In terms of size and price, the Volvo S90 is a rival to the main German executive saloons, but offers something slightly different. The range is now limited to the comfort-biased Inscription and sporty R-Design trim levels, but both offer good levels of standard equipment.
Volvo previously offered the S90 with a variety of engines, comprising of the D4 and D5 diesel, T4 and T5 petrol and T8 Twin Engine plug-in hybrid versions. All delivered a good spread of power, and helped the S90 compete against its rivals, which include the BMW 5 Series, Mercedes E-Class and Audi A6, plus the Jaguar XF and Lexus ES, which offer something different from the German norm.
However, from mid-2020, Volvo decided to limit the choice of S90 powertrains to just the range-topping T8 plug-in hybrid, which means you'll have to find over £56,000 in order to own one.
The S90 T8 unit delivers 300bhp from its 2.0-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine, while there's an 86bhp boost from the electric motor mounted on the rear axle. The system in total offers a claimed 0–62mph time of 5.1 seconds, and a maximum electric-only range of up to 37 miles.
Standard equipment for the S90 includes 19-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, leather upholstery, two-zone climate control, heated front seats, a 12.3-inch digital instrument binnacle and a nine-inch infotainment system.
The R-Design trim adds an aggressive exterior styling pack, sports seats and privacy glass, while Inscription-spec cars include chrome trim, deeper-pile carpets and a massage function for the front seats.
In this review
- 1Verdict - currently readingThe Volvo S90 is a handsome and well-equipped rival to German exec models, but is not quite as good to drive
- 2Engines, performance and driveExcellent cruising refinement, but the chassis feels either too stiff or too soft. Larger wheels dent ride quality, too
- 3MPG, CO2 and Running CostsThe S90 T8 hybrid will provide low running costs, but you need to keep the battery charged up to make the most of it
- 4Interior, design and technologyThe S90 is a stylish premium executive saloon, with distinctive looks and a quality feel
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spaceThe S90's boot isn't the biggest in the class, but capable enough for most needs
- 6Reliability and SafetyVolvo has an excellent safety record, while the S90 should prove to be reliable